Anti-Taliban activist vows not to give up despite narrowly escaping attack by militants

Ahmed Zeb urges govt to take threat of more attacks on peace committee seriously


Reuters October 04, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: An anti-Taliban activist hunted by militants vowed on Tuesday to keep up his struggle against terrorism in the scenic Swat Valley, just a day after he narrowly escaped a car blast that killed his father and a passenger.

Pakistani Taliban took partial control of the valley in 2007, before being ousted two years later in a major military operation hailed as a telling blow against militancy. The group has since carried out revenge attacks against anti-Taliban activists and attempted to extort money from businessmen.

One killed, two injured in Swat blast

I lost my father, and my uncle and cousin are critically wounded, but we will fight until we have rid the area of militants,” Ahmed Zeb, a member of a peace committee in the region, told Reuters.

Police officials say a remote-controlled roadside blast that targeted Zeb’s vehicle killed two people and injured two, although he escaped, as he was not in the vehicle at the time. The attack was claimed by a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban, citing the peace committee’s support for the security forces.

“I believe the militants who escaped from here after the military operation are behind these attacks,” Zeb said. “It’s possible they have informants in the region who help them identify targets.”

Zeb’s peace panel groups councils headed by regional leaders, working with security officials to identify militants operating in the area and provide assistance during search operations. More than 50 peace panel volunteers have been killed since 2009, with the last attack in May 2016, Zeb said.

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“We will continue our work for peace and law and order in the area,” Zeb said, adding that the government needed to take seriously the threat of more attacks on other peace panel members and their families. A spokesman for the interior ministry made no immediate comment on Zeb’s remarks.

Swat was the first sizeable region outside the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to fall to the militants. More than 2,000 Taliban fighters have been driven out of the region, government officials say.

Since 2010, attacks have been a part of life there, such as an attempt in 2012 to assassinate Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, although murders have stopped in the past year, following a series of arrests by police.

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